|Religion's role in adaptation consists largely of providing an ultimate
meaning system that helps individuals deal with life's inevitable contingencies and
frustrations. Although religion may not offer tangible resources to solve problems, all
religions incorporate a theodicy that helps provide emotional and psychological support
and assures individuals of the ultimate value and significance of their lives, despite the
problems they faceillness, poverty, oppression, and even death itselfand
ultimate release from these problems. At the collective level, the specific role of
religion in adaptation varies in different societies. However, its meaning system and
collective rituals typically help promote social integration and solidarity, at least for
members of a religious in-group. At the same time, religion also may help support conflict
between groups, which may decrease optimal adaptation.
Doyle Paul Johnson
P. Berger, The Sacred Canopy (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1964)
T. O'Dea and J. Aviada, Sociology of Religion , 2nd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1983).
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